Author: Sam Milianta

Cameron Smith Grind

Cameron Starke – Smith Grind – SLC, Utah

Much like fashion and music, skateboarding is cyclical.  Tricks and spots come and go, some disappear completely (especially spots), and some return with a vengeance years later.  There is a lot of evidence of this in skateboarding currently, with tricks and clothing from the 1990s being even more popular than they were in the decade they came from. It seems that cargo pants, baggier clothes, smith grinds (did they ever go away?) and wallies/wallrides are everywhere these days. I’ve even witnessed small wheels on a few boards recently.

This spot, which I’ve always known as Ricky Cheney, named after the person who found it, was popular 10 years ago.  The spot consisted of an uphill metal ledge and a red polejam. Rick McCrank and Adam Dyet both had tricks on the polejam and a lot of people in local videos skated the ledge. Currently, the ledge has large knobs installed to prevent any kind of grind or slide, and the polejam was removed several years ago.

While it’s not possible to skate the ledge and polejam that made this spot popular, it’s started to come back on the radar. Woody had a trick in Hathenbruck’s Netnet edit here last year, and this dumpster showed up as a possible spot recently. All it takes is a little time and seeing things a different way to revitalize (skateboard-gentrify?) an old spot. Thanks to Cameron Starke for seeing the possibilities rather than difficulties and Ricky Cheney himself for discovering this place many years ago.

Cameron Starke – Smith Grind – SLC, Utah. Photo: Sam Milianta
Cameron Starke – Smith Grind – SLC, Utah. Photo: Sam Milianta
@Flatspotter footage check. Photo: Sam Milianta

Click images for captions

In the social media age, content is literally at our fingertips all the time. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook make it simple to see what your best friends, idols and favorite stalk subjects are doing at all times. When it comes to skateboarding, Instagram’s skateboard content is mind-boggling. If you are a Utah local skater, chances are that you are part of the 33,100-plus people following @Flatspotter. An organically grown and natural evolution that came from the love of skating and videography has become one of the biggest and (in my own personal opinion) best platforms to see your favorite local skaters at your favorite local parks, absolutely killing it. Mastermind of the lens Dustin Hill and longtime friend and business partner Bryce Parkinson are the enveloped whole that is @Flatspotter. While Hill takes the cake on the filming, Parkinson is the man behind the scenes pushing fresh wood, wheels, soft goods and whatever other items the duo can dream up. What started as a platform to upload videos and get the community hyped is now a killer team of rippers (pictured here), a line of skate products (available at your favorite local shops) and still an engaging and active community with whom to share skateboarding. @Flatspotter was born out of love and thrives on that love—and the duo agrees that it’s something skateboarding needs more of.
(L–R) Bryce Parkinson and Dustin Hill. Photo: Niels Jensen
(L–R) Bryce Parkinson and Dustin Hill. Photo: Niels Jensen

With A combined 39 years of skateboarding under their belts, both Hill and Parkinson are no strangers to the industry. From @Flatspotter’s original montage of Utah rippers and head explosions, @Flatspotter has grown up and out in many ways. “It started probably about 2012 as a video and online persona where I could share my videos (since that’s my trade),” says Hill. “At first, it was all about just sharing Utah skateboarding and a bunch of my friends, and there was really no outlet to share what I was already filming. It’s definitely still about Utah skateboarding, but now we have the team and we are pushing boards, so there is a lot more direction and focus.” Parkinson, on the other hand, who is the former owner of Shortbus Skateboards, joined in the movement roughly three years back with the idea and resources of putting wood to the streets. “It started with some wheels, and then Dustin talked about doing some boards, so we just came together since we were both pushing towards similar things,” Parkinson says. @Flatspotter has been a slow progression of what it is today. “It’s all come about in such a non-traditional way”, says Hill. “There was a website, then the Instagram and social media side went crazy, and now we have product and a team, so it’s all come very organically and kind of randomly,” Hill says. “Now we feel like we have a real board company and a team and an actual direction.” With products comes a financial responsibility, but both Hill and Parkinson agreeably say they are still about keeping the Utah scene hyped, especially on the social media side of things.

Speaking of the team, the @Flatspotter roster is, to no surprise, a heavy bunch of rippers. With all-time Utah killers like Matt Fisher and Shilo Sweat and young gun Deng Tear as well as a couple of “flow” Utah homies, there is no shortage of banger footage coming from the @Flatspotter squad. If the one-minute Instagram video feature only heightens your anxiety to see more of the @Flatspotter homies, there’s good news! “We are working on a video, a half-length, as we like to call it,” says Hill. “It’s a full-length, but no one has any attention span anymore, so a 15-minute video is now considered full-length.” Parkinson adds, “It’s been in motion for about four months now, with about six weeks of really skating and really filming, and I’d say its pretty good so far. Between Matt [Fisher] having a case of the warmup bangers and then Shilo and Deng just ripping, we’ve seen some pretty cool tricks go down.”

As far as the future, Hill and Parkinson hope still to be ripping and staying afloat in the scene. “Hopefully, we are maintaining and still moving product,” says Parkinson. “The newest boards have been moving the best as far as online sales and the local shops who have been supporting us, so we’re optimistic.” Of course, they’re staying humble. Hill says, “Thirty-one thousand Instagram followers doesn’t necessarily mean you are killing it, since you’re competing with literally every other skate company out there.” As a whole, the skate industry has seen some real fluctuation, not only in brands and skaters, but a vibe in and of itself of what is considered “cool and core” and what is considered “corporate and lame.” “We just want to see more love,” says Hill. “Not only in Utah or anything in particular but from the industry and collectively, just as skaters coming together and being hyped on the same thing.”

There’s no question that Utah’s is a strong and growing skate scene and that companies like @Flatspotter not only give this scene a platform but are now contributing with their products. As long as the support goes full circle, more companies, shops and industry influencers can stay afloat and keep the progression alive on all bases. Hill and Parkinson do what they do out of love and out of the need to share their creativity with whomever is hyped on it. If you are not already, follow @Flatspotter on Instagram and support them online and in your local shops. –Steve Goemaat

Gabe Spotts – frontside-flip. Photo: Niels Jensen

Gabe Spotts – Frontside Kickflip – SLC, Utah

If you ride a skateboard in 2017, you’ve no doubt noticed the amount of media presence on any given skate session. Every trick anyone does is constantly being filmed and photographed for social media. This day was no different, as a myriad of people had their phones out to film Gabe Spotts’ frontside flip down this new set of stairs (coincidentally in the exact same spot as another old skateboard spot). It was no surprise that Niels Jensen and I both shot the trick with our cameras (the non-smartphone variety) from two different angles. –Sam Milianta

Gabe Spotts – frontside-flip Photo: Niels Jensen

Gabe Spotts – frontside-flip. Photo: Sam Milianta

Photo: Sam Milianta

Jake Flood – Boardslide – SLC, Utah

Growing up in small town Utah, we had a lot of “almost spots”—skateboard spots that had one thing wrong with it that made it impossible to skate, or spots that none of us were good enough to skate. This spot in the Avenues is one of those spots. Several skaters tried this boardslide this day, but Jake Flood was the first to roll away from the snake. Big up to Matt Bergmann for sticking it out and keeping at it until he rolled away as well. The best thing about this spot was all the local, non-skateboarding neighbors who came out to watch and said things like, “I was wondering if it was possible to skate something like that,” or the guy who called his friends to tell them to come watch this crazy happening outside of his house. I guess “almost spots” aren’t just a skateboard thing.

Photo: Sam Milianta

Photo: Sam Milianta
Photo: Sam Milianta

Photo: Sam Milianta

I took this photo of my friend, Millionaire Michael (real name withheld to protect his stock market status), last October at this strange spot on the outskirts of Oakland, Calif. This spot is in a city park in a really mellow neighborhood.

It actually used to be a skatepark in the 1970s. When the 1980s hit and skateboarding kind of died, the skatepark was torn out and the city turned it into a playground. This big, cement wave was all that was left of the original skatepark. It used to have these weird monkey bar things you had to curve through to skate, and was really difficult to get to. Recently, the playground was renovated and they made the runway wider and more direct. They also added some nice ledges to skate. It’s one of those really unique spots that are always a blast to skate, and Michael had no problem shredding a 5-0 fakie on it on a very nice day in October. If you’re ever just outside of Oakland, look for the skateable city park with a big green taco.

Photos:

It’s finally time for summer. Unfortunately, this photo is from a few months back, when it was comfortable jacket weather. I guess that’s part of me being a geezer and not developing anything for months, so I have a backlog of images I’ve totally forgotten about.  I’d like to say that I’m an artist and my photos are timeless, but that would be a joke. This photo will be dated by this time next year, when some kid from Nowheresville, Utah hardflips into this same trick at this same spot. Unfortunately for Cody Hardflip, Sam Giles got a pretty damn stylish backside 50­­-50 on this spot without the hardflip … and that is timeless, even if my photo isn’t.

Sam Giles, Backside 50-50

Photos: